It has been so long since we heard anything about Code Vein. It was slated to be released back in 2018 but was decided to be delayed. Since then there hadn’t been news on the title, it had gone completely dark. Leading up to this were the complaints from fans of both the Soulsborne series from those who had played the game at various events. Similar to when myself and Keith played this during New York Comicon 2017, and PAX East 2017, there were some issues regarding the gameplay. Mainly the slow combat and the number of rough patches. Still, I l feel that the game has a lot of potential and will appeal to Soulsborne fans. Something that I’m sure Bandai Namco is betting on.
It wasn’t that long ago that Bandai Namco announced they were going to hold a network test for Code Vein and luckily, I was granted access to it. It would be here that I’d be able to see what has improved since its year-long delay. If there is a sentence to sum this up, it is this: I’m glad they took the time to improve and it looks better than ever.
Getting My Customization On
The demo composes of the prologue level and an extra level that is recommended to be level 40+. So fighting this hard dungeon right after the prologue will be a challenge.
You begin by being greeted by a voice named by Cruz and in a light vortex. You start here by first either naming your character or by customizing your appearance. While I’m talking about this, let me address something that some are worried in regard to the recent SONY climate and of their treatment of Japanese games.
In this beta and build so far, you CAN adjust the female’s chest size. Well in a roundabout way.
When customizing, it is under the physique/build balance slider, from 0 – 20. So instead of directly labeling a chest slider, like in Saints Row or the Japanese version of Xenoblade Chronicles X, it is in relation to your build. Smaller the frame and shoulders, lesser the chest. Bigger frame and shoulders, bigger the chest.
So for all the people that are concerned, don’t worry. Isn’t similar to what happened to Xenoblade Chronicles X, where the breast slider was removed. At least for now. Also for those who prefer Justice over Plot, sorry, all female avatars are required to be at least a B-Cup here. Sadly, you cant make short busty characters, so no Hestia for all you Danmachi (Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?) lovers.
So in regards to character customization, there are lots to choose from. The amount of customization is pretty insane, very similar in terms to Soul Calibur 6’s create-a-character. From adding layers of color or extensions to your hair, accessories, iris colors, scars, makeup, the list goes on. From changing the lighting in the background, expressions of your character’s face, pose, I can only imagine the creativity some will put into this to make some amazing characters or just crazy ones.
There are some critiques naturally. Like I wish there were more hairstyle variety or some sort of grid numbers with an X, Y, Z axis to know where you place accessories in case someone wants to recreate a character. Sometimes similar like the face code for Shepard in Mass Effect. There are times when I would adjust something but it just wouldn’t get into the right spot.
As for any RPG with avatar customization, I try to make myself or as close to my appearance as I can. The reason is that I want to see myself in the world and imagine what it would be to be in that world.
Tools and Gifts Of Blood
Once done completing your characters, you a placed in a tutorial session from Cruz. Here you learn the basics, like moving, attacking and the different weapon types. Soon you will learn how it differentiates itself from other Soul-likes. First is the Blood Codes. Think of this as your character classes. Fighter code for close range combat and single-handed swords. Ranger code for long range and use of a rifle. And Caster for your magic focused play style. For Code Vein, you can freely swap between Blood Codes. You are not limited to one class or code, so feel free to experiment and which suit your play style.
With your Blood Code comes with skills to use in a battle called gifts. These vary from attack buffs, elemental defenses, fireballs, lightning barrages and so forth. These skills come at a cost, blood icors. Think of it as the silver bullets of Bloodborne or general MP. You can regain these point by attacking the main enemies of the game: the Lost. You can also refill icors by using a special move: the Drain attacks.
This move basically turns your hand or equipment into a tool of dark edginess depending on your Blood Veils, aka your armor. There are four types: The Claw Type, basically every edgelord or chunibyous weapon of choice. The Tail Type, which literally turns you into Kaneki of Tokyo Ghoul with a single tail blade. The Dual Hell Hound, ala The Darkness. And one that channels Unlimited Blade Works of Fate Stay.
While also refilling your icor, landing drain attacks will increase the limit of your icor points. The more often you use it, the more you can use your blood gifts more frequently. For example, if you start off with a limit of 20 icor points and you land drain attacks, the limit will increase the more you use it. The only time it resets the limit is when you stop and rest at Mistles, which act as the bonfires of the game. Drain attacks also serve as your backstab and parry. Naturally, this causes critical damage depending on your stats and the armor type. The Unlimited blade works is a strong attack, but it is slow to activate when trying to parry. While the Claw type is quick, and the parry window is at the beginning, while trading off power output. Once you land a parry or backstab, there is a cool cinematic that happens after. You can turn this off in the options if you desire.
There is one criticism I have with the backstab. There is no indication if you are in the right spot to perform it. I expect when you lock on, your target reticle turns red or something like it. But there is nothing that lets you know. You basically have to be in hairs distance and right in their space and hope you are in the right spot.
A Lost World
Once you are done with the tutorial, it is off to the wasteland. You wake up to a woman in white, later to be known as Io. Since this is an anime-inspired game, both of you have amnesia. All she knows is that she is to be by your side at all times. There is extra lore that explains some details during the loading screens, but I’ll leave that for you to discover.
For the record as well, the prologue and story is not a trashy anime.
As you come to, your character is weak and needs blood. She brings you to a blood spring in which your blood revitalizes the tree to create blood beads, a scarce resource that is needed for the revenants to survive. Unfortunately, you are captured by some unscrupulous revenants and forces you and others to hunt for blood beads for them. Here you get a bit lore from the baddies. Discovering that the current society for survival involves a levy system and a leader by the name of Silva. All you know is that blood beads are everything. If revenants don’t feed on blood beads or be exposed to the miasma without a purifier mask, then they become the “Lost” and can never return or revive.
After being kicked into a hole with another companion named Oliver, the first stage of the game opens up. It begins with the level easing you in with the skills you learned and showing off the new mechanics like the backstab and focused state. Throughout the stage you’ll find plenty of the Lost, however, many of them aren’t too much of a threat. Still, you shouldn’t underestimate anything. There are some large Lost that can easily take you down in two hits, but they are slow, making it easy to read their attacks.
There were also enemies that were hanging from the ceiling. Including some big Lost and poison slime. While exploring, the game will mark the steps that you take, shaping the dungeon on your map before you find minor mistles, which will reveal part of the map once purified.
Shortly you will find a revenant recently turned Lost and attacks Oliver. You make quick work of it. However, Oliver is wounded and cannot continue. You then have to explore yourself for a time before meeting Louis, another adventurer researching blood beads.
The Dungeon’s ambiance is as you expected. A dark modern civilization that has been destroyed and now in place is a dog eat dog society. While it may not be in the terms of FromSoftware storytelling, it serves enough to let the player know the story and feel of the world of Code Vein. The area is dark, seeing these dark crystals in the caverns, details that radiate bleakness and battle of survival.
Once you find the blood spring in the caverns, you venture your way out of the caverns. Once you hit the top side, you see that Oliver is here. Due to his mask being damaged and exposed to the miasma, he has become a Lost, and sadly he can’t be turned back. So it’s up to you and Louis to put him down and save Io who was knocked out at the scuffle.
Oliver is a simple boss as while he hits hard, he is slow. Generally easy to tell his attacks. Course in boss gauntlet fashion, there is a second phase to this fight once you hit mid health which he becomes massive and increases his attack range.
Once you have slain Oliver, you see a crystal that appears after called a Vestige. Louis warns not to touch it as it will corrupt any revenant and become lost by luring with the voices it gives off. Course in anime fashion, plot convenience and curiosity, we decide to touch it. It stabs our hand and almost turn us, but with Io’s help, we are able to channel the Vestige and go into the memories it contains. In this case, Oliver’s memories up to his death.
Once all said and done, Louis takes you back to home base. Just want to say that the base is beautiful. Which ends up being a church with a heavy Gothic aesthetic. Yet for some reason, it also has a bar. A nice detail is if there is a chair, you are able to sit and be able to take some beautiful screenshots as shown below.
Here are your basic items and weapons shops that will help you aid in your journey as well as other supporting casts like Coco and Murasame. This is where the story portion ends. Louis will give you more details on what happened to the world and wanting to know why and how your blood is able to revitalize blood springs. You also gain Louis’ blood code, Prometheus and its unique gifts. The story portion ends here and you’re greeted with a “thank you for playing” screen. However, it’s not over and it’s here that the extra content becomes available for you to try out.
In the Face of Death, We Rise
After the prologue, you gain three new blood codes to try out in the Depths, a level in which is recommended to be level 40. While the enemies are tough, it is easy to grind for levels and materials for upgrading your weapons and equipment. Needless to say, you are going to die. I decided to grind a few levels before I headed out.
There are three zones that you need to face to gain three keys to access the final part. Full of the usual traps, as well as enemies that would come out of nowhere. Personally, if you are meticulously cautious to the point of paranoia, then you can get through the enemies no problem.
There is this one zone, in which there was a treasure chest holding a great piece of armor. However once approached, it then warns you that the lost souls have gathered. Here, enemies of all types spawn in to kill you. First time encountering this, I immediately reached for the treasure and booked it back to the Mistle. Note that enemies are set to a boundary and can be caught stuck in the environment, so that is a clear exploit that takes away the fear of the encounter. I imagine this will be corrected before the game is officially released.
Now the bosses. Two of them I wouldn’t say are bosses, as much as they are vastly stronger enemies. Oh, you have to fight two of them at the same time. One was a set of obese, female Losts that carried massive hammer weapons, while the other was a set of Lost White Knights. It was quite troublesome to deal with two simultaneous enemies, but you do have your AI partner so it isn’t as daunting. There is one aspect that sets these two apart from other bosses. They can be backstabbed. Fans of Dark Souls or more recently Sekiro will likely enjoy these encounters, or not.
There was another boss battle, which pitted me against the Queens Knight. This was the same boss me and Keith played against back in 2017 in New York Comicon. We were denied a shirt because of this boss. But now, was time for revenge. Thankfully, this boss’ attack pattern didn’t change much from the first time I fought against it. Except it was apparent that the combat was much faster and smoother since then.
After I secured the three keys, this unlocked yet another counter – access to the final boss of the area: The Blade Bearer. Basically think of her as a bustier Weiss Schnee from RWBY with 2B of Nier Automata put together. Her game is all about ice in the 1st phase of her fight. Yes, she has a second phase. Attacks of the first phase aren’t too bad so as long as you avoid the ice attacks. Once you take down a full health bar, she goes to her second phase. Switching it from Ice to Fire now.
Once beaten, that is pretty much it for the entire demo. You can now focus on helping others via multiplayer.
Multiplayer Is A Bit Lacking
Simply put, it is definitely on the rough side of things but I feel it has potential. I tested with some of the other regions outside of the United States area. Matching with Japan players was surprisingly okay. Still had some lag but overall passable. Asia is where I had the biggest amount of Lag. Naturally, you want to keep close to your own region and area for a smoother connection.
It was here that I encountered a number of issues. There were online matches in which my attacks and actions wouldn’t register, and my characters would moonwalk or zip across to map. Obviously, this was a network test and I expect these issues to be ironed out prior to the release of the game. But nevertheless, I had some good matches and fun. There were builds of other players that were very unique and I could imagine how they will look when put into action.
If you have stuck with this so far, thank you for your time. This will be my last thoughts.
Wrapping this all up, the demo for Code Vein is very promising. While there are kinks that need to be worked out, it is shaping to be a very good product. It showed off much of the gameplay, a bit of the story, and a brief showing of the multiplayer.
I personally cannot wait to delve again back into the character customization to fine-tune my character. From what I played, the world of Code Vein has drawn me in and I can’t wait to see what else the full game offers up. The atmosphere, the Goth Victorian aesthetic, it really pulls on any Edgelord’s heartstrings. Yes, it probably follows some anime tropes, but I feel it is not going the same route as some trashy anime. Let me rephrase that. It is definitely not some trashy anime action game. Bandai Namco took the Soulsborne formula and put their own anime spin to it. If that is in your preferences, then Code Vein is a title you should not miss.
Code Vein is scheduled to release on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on September 27, 2019.